Alabama Graduate Theology Schools & Programs
Graduate theology schools help students to explore religious ideas like god, the divine, and other metaphysical concepts. They might do this by studying not only the bible, but also theological scholarship, Christian philosophy, and other religious texts and teachings. Theology graduate schools—which potentially includes divinity school and seminary school programs within a university—are anchored in a certain faith tradition, and may explore theological concepts from that perspective. However, in some cases, secular programs could also be available. Theology graduate schools may offer masters degrees, doctorates, and graduate certificates.
Why Consider Attending Graduate Theology Schools?
Graduate theology schools could be a supportive option to pursue expertise in religious scholarship. You might choose to attend a convenient part-time program local to you, a full time residential program in an exciting new city, or something in between! Either way, you’d have the opportunity to study under experienced faculty, developing personal relationships with your peers and mentors. And you could use the resources available on your school’s campus, like research materials, technology, and even academic support. Some theology graduate schools even offer flexible scheduling options, including night classes that could accommodate a full time work schedule, or online courses.
Types of Graduate Theology Schools
Theology graduate schools offer a broad range of programs, each with unique approaches to the subject, and specific goals with respect to that approach. For example, a theology graduate school might use the framework of their affiliated religious tradition, and that may have some differences compared to a school associated with a different faith. However, that’s not the only potential difference.
While individual programs may vary, broadly
speaking, theology graduate programs fall in two categories.
- Applied Theology Graduate Schools develop high-level expertise regarding theology scholarship, texts, and concepts. However, they generally focus on helping students learn to use that expertise to help people in their careers. This could include religious education, ministry, or pastoral leadership. These may also be referred to as practice-based.
- Scholarship-Oriented Theology Graduate Schools focus on developing, writing, and understanding theology scholarship. In addition to developing fluency with theology research and influential voices in that space, students may also have the opportunity to hone their research and writing chops.
Degrees Offered at Graduate Theology Schools
Theology graduate schools may offer both practice-based and scholarly programs at several levels, including masters, post-masters, and doctorate. Shorter theology graduate certificate programs may also be available. Within each category, a range of degree types may be offered. The nature and availability of each degree or certificate type may vary by school.
Masters in Theology
Theology master’s degree programs may issue one of several different degrees upon completion. This could depend on the nature of the school, the goals of the program, and the types of students the program is designed to serve. The prerequisites of each program will differ by school. This could vary significantly, from programs open to those with little experience and unrelated bachelor’s degrees, to programs specifically for students with both religious education and professional experience (e.g. clergy).
- Master of Arts in Theology (or MA in Theological Studies): This degree type is somewhat variable. Depending on the school issuing it, it may either be applied or academic.
- Master of Divinity (M.Div.): These are usually professional degrees, meaning they’re practice-oriented. As such, they may tend to be aimed toward students with experience in ministry or religious education.
- Master of Theological Studies (MTS): MTS programs are typically academic. They focus on building fluency with theology scholarship, and performing and writing research. They may also help to facilitate further study at the doctoral level.
- Master of Theology (Th.M.): This is sometimes considered a post-masters degree, and as such may require students to have prior master's-level education in or related to theology. These programs are typically academic, focusing on building the theology scholarship experience one might need to pursue a doctorate.
- Master of Sacred Theology (STM): STM degrees are typically awarded by Catholic graduate schools. Like Th.M. programs, they’re often considered post-masters. They may help students to earn theology research experience, and help to facilitate doctoral study.
Doctorate in Theology
Theology doctoral programs include a few different degree types. In some ways, these may equate to the degrees offered at the masters level. However, there are a few unique differences. Also similar to the masters level, the prerequisites may vary, and the programs may either be professional or academic. Typically, however, you might expect prerequisites to attend a theology doctoral program to include elements like a theology masters program, research experience, professional experience, and adherence to a related faith tradition.
- PhD in Theology: Theology PhD programs may be the most variable between schools. Often, these are research-focused, and may look to support roles at the university level. That said, practice-based PhD programs may be offered at some graduate schools.
- Doctor of Pastoral Theology: These are typically professional doctorates. They’re often designed to help students apply their knowledge of theology in pastoral, ministry, or theology education types of roles.
- Doctor of Sacred Theology: These degrees are usually only offered at Catholic graduate schools in the pontifical university system. They tend to focus on theology scholarship, and aim to support students as they prepare to lecture on theology at the university level.
- Doctor of Canon Law: This is also a degree unique to the Catholic pontifical university system. It could be described as the religious equivalent of the Juris Doctor (JD) and focuses on the nature and application of the ecclesiastical laws and regulations within the church. Despite its comparison to JD degrees, however, it does not qualify somebody to practice law.
Theology Graduate Certificates
Theology graduate certificate schools enable students to study a specific theology topic in detail at the masters or post-masters level. Because these are not degree programs, the curriculum tends to be short. In some cases, the credits earned might be transferrable toward a degree at a later time. Schools may offer graduate certificates in a range of topics, from the teachings of a certain philosopher, to theology research methodology, to strategies to teach theology in the classroom.
Search for Graduate Theology Schools
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